CNN’s legal analyst Asha Rangappa is calling for the impeachment of Attorney General Bill Barr. Rangappa claims that Barr “tried to bamboozle the country” in the recent controversy over the replacement of Geoffrey Berman, who until Saturday had been the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. She further states that there is no ability for the Inspector General to investigate any improper conduct despite evidence that “Barr was attempting to obstruct justice by removing [Berman]. There is no such evidence and the call for impeachment shows a continuing misconstruction of the history and standard for impeachment.
I have previously challenged analysis on CNN the claims of established crimes or impeachable offenses in the Trump Administration. Much of that analysis has proven incorrect, including the breathless accounts of Russian collusion with the campaign. This does not reflect any agreement with the underlying acts, which I have also condemned by the detachment of analysis from any controlling legal authority. What also concerns me is how the expansive views of criminal or impeachable conduct is often coupled with highly technical and narrow views of such allegations against Trump critics like Rangappa’s defense of James Comey.
The suggestion of that Barr should be impeached is framed as the only possible option since “The special counsel regulations don’t contemplate investigating a potentially corrupt AG—because a corrupt AG would never invoke the regulations to investigate himself.” The fact is that Barr’s actions can be investigated by the Inspector General or Congress. Indeed, I have supported Congress in demanding answers to any lingering questions.
The only compelling basis for the impeachment of a cabinet member would be credible evidence of a crime like obstruction. Rangappa does not bother to cite any such clear evidence. Indeed, reporting from respected journalists like Pete Williams at NBC have cited multiple sources for saying that this move had nothing to do with the Trump-related investigations. Indeed, as I wrote earlier, it did not make much sense since there have been no reports of interference since Barr took office. These investigations have continued unimpeded. Barr himself told the SDNY staff to report any such interference to the Inspector General and repeated his position that the underlying investigations be allowed to proceed without interference.
Beside those reports and the lack of evidence, Rangappa still believes that Barr should be impeached.
Barr actually addressed this issue in a prior hearing in an exchange with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.):
Senator Blumenthal [continuing]. A United States Attorney. Would you allow the President to fire a United States Attorney and thereby stop an investigation?
General Barr. I would not stand by and allow a U.S. Attorney to be fired for the purpose of stopping an investigation, but the President can fire a U.S. Attorney. They are a presidential appointment.
The point is obvious and correct. The President has the constitutional prerogative to pick high-ranking officials. No attorney general would contest that right. Rather, Barr was pledging to refuse any such change if it sought stop an investigation. In the Berman matter, Barr reaffirmed that same principle.